This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Increasing his Carbonfootprint

     I had an opportunity for an unusual ride this past Sunday.  It was again a beautiful day for cycling and the inauguration of Fall here in the upper Midwest.  I received an e-mail inviting me to join a cyclist who was riding across the state to promote the state's developing trail system.  Now there was an opportunity.  I was looking for a metric century over the weekend and was given some company. Chris Bowman was riding from South Haven to Kalamazoo on the trail, then after a night in town here, he was continuing on to the Battle Creek/Marshall area for his second night.  That worked with my plan, I called him, and found that this was a new experience for him and he was excited.

 His plans were to take his time, work his way across the state from South Haven to Port Huron in about 7 days.  That sounded like a reasonable pace for me and I was happy to find somebody intrepid enough to attempt it.
   Over the years I have found many opportunities to talk with people about cyclo-touring and have found mixed interest and intimidation coming from different sources.  I suggest it to many people who seem envious when I tell them of a planned trip, even experienced cyclists respond with "Sure, I'd love to, but....." and I have heard at least a hundred different variations of "reasoned" resistance.  Once I suggested it to a Scout group and the seasoned outdoors men and professionals in the group insisted it was impossible to carry camping gear on a bike.  They will load 30 lbs of gear on the back of a 10-12 year old and take them on week long hiking trips, but can't imagine putting the same or less equipment on a machine.  Anyway, I was glad to run across somebody taking the leap.
   I rode out to meet him after 8 am in the morning and we started riding the trail out of town along the river valley.   I found he was not only new, but under equipped and over packed as well.  He was riding a bike he had gotten for $150 in an Amazon sell off and he was carrying about twice what I would.  There were no braze-ons or bosses to screw things to the frame, so he did what made sense to him, he attached a very flimsy rack to the bike with zip ties..
The more exciting thing about the trip was not only was he courageous enough to make the trip with little experience or specialized equipment, he only has one leg!

 Born with a birth defect, his right leg never fully developed and he has used a prosthetic his entire life.  Now I was really impressed and glad to be along.   As we rode, he explained that he didn't expect to cover as much distance as another person because he found that his effort (almost entirely with his left leg)requires nearly twice the energy as a normal person, so he naturally has lower expectations.  He likes to tell the story of the day when he was a kid, riding his bike and his prosthetic leg broke, it was still in place but he couldn't use it.  He was forcing his way home, pedaling with his left leg while holding his right out away from the bike with his "foot" dangling wildly from the end of his pant leg.  Panicked people tried to stop him to help, but he just yelled, "I just broke my leg, I'll fix it at home!"   Nothing really seems to stop Chris and it's a good thing because a few miles after I joined him, his rear rack stay broke.
    The instability of the zip ties and being over loaded put enough stress on it to snap it right off.  We used a couple zip ties to put it back,

 he put his back pack on his back and I took part of the load on my bike.  With all that done, we rode off across rural Michigan looking for a hardware store that was open on Sunday.  Well, you can guess where we found one.  We did find some hose clamps at a gas station and was able to stabilize that part of his rack so he could get the backpack off his body.

 We really needed to find some P-clamps to stabilize that rack.  We continued on without incident to Battle Creek where we followed the trail to a hardware store I suspected was open.  We were hours ahead of his projected schedule, so were able to re install the rack with P-clips reinforced with zip ties and he still had plenty of time for dinner and to find a place to stay.    He had been promised there would be a place for him free of charge at the Calhoun County Medical Care facility, but when he called the head-nurse-Ratchet-in-charge, she reneged on the promise and left Chris with no place to go at the last minute.
When I left him to make the return trip, he was planning to stealth camp along the trail, but I found out later he found nothing to make him comfortable so he rode on to Marshall and got a motel room.  I heard from him Monday and he was trudging onward, he had reached Jackson and was staying with a couple from  He was not letting anything slow him down.
    He is out to show people that anybody can, if he can.
A one legged man on a department store bike, makes me feel gutless and boring.
You can catch up with Chris at Crazyguyonabike under "carbonfootprint."

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